We’re involved in a major international satellite launch mission which aims to observe some of the most energetic objects and events in the cosmos, further advancing the science of space exploration.
Professor Chris Done, from our Department of Physics, is one of the scientists leading on the mission.
The X-Ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM), is a ground-breaking instrument, with potential to unlock answers to important questions about the evolution of the Universe and the structure of spacetime.
XRISM is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and NASA, with significant participation from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Professor Chris Done, in our Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, is one of two leading European scientists chosen by ESA to be involved in the project.
Chris’ contribution has involved identifying and setting the scientific goals for the new satellite, as well as leading on the analysis of its first year’s cosmic observations.
It’s hoped the data will enable scientists to push the boundaries in observing X-ray light in space and make breakthroughs in this area of astronomy.
X-rays are released in the Universe’s most energetic explosions and hottest places.
This includes the super-hot gas that envelops the Universe’s biggest building blocks: galaxy clusters.
XRISM has been designed to detect X-ray light from this gas to help astronomers understand how it is heated.
The new instrument will also study X-rays from gas falling into supermassive black holes that lie at the centres of some galaxies.
This will help to understand how these objects warp the surrounding spacetime, and to what extent they influence their host galaxies through ‘winds’ of particles ejected at speeds close to the speed of light.
The XRISM mission is paving the way between ESA’s other X-ray missions: XMM-Newton, which is still going strong after 24 years in space, and Athena, which is due to launch in the late 2030s.
Header image: An artist impression of XRISM. Credit: JAXA
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Durham University is a top 100 world university. In the QS World University Rankings 2024, we were ranked 78th globally.